"They rolled up their sleeves and deeply engaged with our workers in the bakery and café," said Father Greg Boyle of Homeboy Industries

By Michelle Tauber
June 24, 2020 04:29 PM
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Meghan Markle and Prince Harry wore gloves, face masks and matching hair nets to lend a helping — and safe — hand in the kitchen.

The couple recently visited Homeboy Industries, a community social justice organization working to improve the lives of formerly incarcerated and previously gang-involved people in L.A.

During the visit, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex joined the group's participants ("Homies") working in the café and bakery. Together they prepared food for the #FeedHOPE program, which employs Homeboy participants to provide meals to food-insecure seniors and youth across L.A. amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

"The Duke and Duchess of Sussex were just 'Harry and Meghan' to the homies," said Father Greg Boyle, the group's founder. "They rolled up their sleeves and deeply engaged with our workers in the bakery and café. It was immediate kinship and heartening in its mutuality.”

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Meghan has a longstanding connection to Boyle, who has worked closely with her alma mater, Immaculate Heart High School. Meghan and her mom, Doria, joined Boyle for a cooking workshop with Homeboy almost 20 years ago. ("She remembers the tamale recipe she learned there to this day," says a source.)

Meghan Markle and Prince Harry
Chris Jackson/Getty

"With their visit, the Duke and Duchess of Sussex saw the dignity and power that comes from having a job," says Homeboy Industries’ CEO, Thomas Vozzo. "At Homeboy, through our social enterprise businesses, people can continue to heal and they work, learning skills and changing their lives, changing their families and changing communities."

Adds Mariana Enriquez, manager of the Homegirl Café: "It was remarkable to share our Feed Hope program with Harry and Meghan.  They are both down to earth and kind. The staff was honored they took the time to see us, hear us and walk on our journey today. We will never forget it."

The couple will be using their platform in other new ways. On Wednesday, PEOPLE confirmed that Meghan and Harry have signed with the New York-based Harry Walker Agency for speaking engagements.

Their new venture, which was first reported by the Los Angeles Times, will see the couple engage in keynote speeches with trade associations, corporations and community forums. They will also continue to focus on social issues such as racial injustice, gender equality, mental health and environmental concerns.

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The speaking agency also represents Oprah Winfrey and Jane Goodall — who are friends with the couple — in addition to Michelle and Barack Obama, Hillary and Bill Clinton, Alex Rodriguez, Lin-Manuel Miranda, Tina Fey, Stacey Abrams and Gloria Steinem.

Meghan Markle addressing the Immaculate Heart Class of 2020.
Meghan, the Duchess of Sussex

The couple is also moving forward with their new organization, Archewell, which they have been developing behind the scenes amid the rapidly changing social landscape.

"Nobody could have counted on the world turning upside down," a source previously told PEOPLE. "As many others have, they have been moved to get their voices behind supporting both the COVID-19 response and Black Lives Matter.

“They are excited to see it all come together. It’s what they have always dreamed of doing together."